U.S. imports of biomass-based diesel, including biodiesel and renewable diesel, increased by 65 percent in 2016 to reach a record level of 916 million gallons, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday.
Increasing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets and the recently expired biodiesel blender’s tax credit were strong drivers of biomass-based diesel demand in 2016, incentivizing increased levels of imports of both biodiesel and renewable diesel, the administration explained.
The biodiesel blender’s tax credit has expired several times in the past, most recently at the end of 2014, only to be retroactively reinstated, it added.
The RFS program was created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil.
However, U.S. imports of biodiesel, which totaled 353 million gallons in 2015, nearly doubled in 2016 to reach a record-high 693 million gallons, according to the EIA.
"More than half of U.S. imports of biodiesel originated from Argentina (64 percent), with much of the rest coming from Indonesia (15 percent) and Canada (14 percent)," the EIA said.
The EIA also announced that imports of renewable diesel increased 9 percent from 2015 levels to reach 223 million gallons in 2016. Similar to 2015, Singapore was the only source of imported renewable diesel, it explained.
Lastly, the administration projected biomass-based diesel imports to remain largely flat in 2017 because of the expiration of the blender’s tax credit, before increasing in 2018 as a result of raising RFS targets.
It concluded that net imports of biomass-based diesel (imports minus exports) are expected to remain largely unchanged at roughly 800 million gallons in 2017, before increasing to around 900 million gallons in 2018.
By Ebru Sengul